ERASING THE EELAM VICTORY Part 20 C5
Posted on June 20th, 2021

KAMALIKA PIERIS

Several   countries   which are pro-Eelam have   prevented senior military officials of the Sri Lanka army, from attending prestigious foreign courses and receiving scholarships, citing unsubstantiated war crimes accusations.  Maj. Gen Jagath Dias was not allowed to join an ICRC project in Australia.  US refused to accommodate Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe, on a programme as he commanded the elite 53 Division. The 53 Division had killed LTTE leader Prabhakaran.

The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) created dossiers of war crimes for the senior officers who led the final assault in Eelam War IV.  ITJP had dossiers on Shavendra Silva, Kamal Gunaratne, Jagath Jayasuriya and Jagath Dias. Shavendra Silva’s dossier had information on his four deputies in the 58 division as well.

Three retired service commanders, Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonetileke, Admiral Tisara Samarasinghe and General Daya Ratnayake, called a special media briefing in Colombo at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute in February 2019, to bring to public attention what they called a relentless campaign directed against some individuals in the army.

General Ratnayake said that they were seriously concerned about the ongoing operation targeting the military.  Since the change of government, in January 2015, 67 army officers and 637 other rankers had been investigated. The number of officers and other ranks (Army and Navy) arrested during this period was placed at 15 and 35, respectively. Seven Army and Navy personnel are currently in custody. One officer and one soldier have been sentenced to death. He said it was not the policy of the army to deliberately target civilians. The war winning military was being [unfairly] penalized.

 These retired service commanders expressed concern over the attempt to take wartime Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda into custody regarding some wartime disappearances (2007-2008). They praised the role played by Admiral Karannagoda during the conflict. Karannagoda changed the naval strategy in place at the time and had also taken action to destroy the floating LTTE arsenals on high seas.

Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) Maj. Gen. Suresh Sallay has sent a Letter of Demand to Executive Director of the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) Yasmin Sooka and the ITJP for making malicious allegations against him. The letter of demand states that on or about June 01, 2020, Yasmin Sooka, in her capacity as the Executive Director of the ITJP issued a press statement making various defamatory remarks against Major General Sallay. The press statement was published on the ITJP Sri Lanka’s website.

The Letter of Demand says the defamatory implications have resulted in parties with vested interests making attempts on the life of Maj. Gen. Sallay. The Letter mentions the numerous awards and achievements of Major General Sallay and the resultant tarnishing of this reputation.  He asks for Rs 1 million as damages. The Letter of Demand has also notified Sooka and the ITJP to cease and desist from issuing further defamatory remarks if they continue to do so, Sallay would take legal action, both Civil and or Criminal.

Lawyers representing Maj. Gen. Suresh Sallay also handed over a letter to UN office in Colombo complaining about a propaganda campaign carried out by Yasmin Sooka of the ‘Truth and Justice’ Project against  Sallay.

Major General Chagi Gallege, then Director General, Infantry  was refused a visa to visit his brother in Australia, due to ‘war crimes.’ Australia has found fault with Gallage for being in command of the 59 Division from May 7, 2009 to July 20, 2009   when it was engaged in the Vanni offensive. Australian High Commission stated that troops under his command certainly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. There have never been specific allegations against Maj. Gen. Gallege before. Gallege has now retired from service, but the Australian ban remains.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection has extensively cited Report of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) on Sri Lanka (OISL) to turn down Gallege’s visa..Australia has cited a statement attributed to General Officer Commanding (GOC) 58 Division Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) real time footage had been made available to ground commanders marking targets, to justify its decision. On the basis of Maj. Gen. Silva’s statement, Australia has alleged that Maj. Gen. Gallege had been aware of artillery strikes on third no fire zone.

.Australia has accused Maj. Gen. Gallege of planning, implementing and supporting war crimes and crimes against humanity. Australia also held him responsible as the serving officer for failing to prevent troops under his command from committing war crimes.

Sources pointed out that the decision to accuse Maj. Gen. Gallege of crimes against humanity meant that Australia believed that the Sri Lankan army carried out systematic attacks against Tamil civilians. The High Commission ignored the fact that none of the allegations had been proved in a court of law or at least thoroughly examined, said critics.

Chagi Gallage was in the forefront of the war against the LTTE.  He is acknowledged widely as a very good soldier. He is considered one of best strategists in the army. He discharged his duties on the battlefield with distinction.  He was a simple and humble officer, who did not throw his weight about  and   was liked by both officers and the ranks.

Gallage’s predicament did not receive the media attention it deserved.  Neither Parliament nor nationalist groups took up the matter. An ungrateful Sri Lanka never bothered to make representations on behalf of an officer who risked his life for his motherland on countless occasions as a frontline infantry officer, said analysts. They observed that while a legitimate army was being targeted for defeating the LTTE, the LTTE had been given safe haven in many parts of the world.  (Continued)

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